Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NYE Classic sees Canada beat USA in WJC

Montreal, QC -- With a little more than four minutes remaining and the host country ahead by two goals, partisan fans who packed the Bell Centre began to perform the Ole! chant prevalent at Montreal Canadiens games and then proceeded to do The Wave.

Only problem, Team USA didn't think the outcome was sealed just yet.

Dylan Larkin scored twice in a span of 1:52, his final goal coming with 41.2 seconds left in regulation, and the Americans turned a 3-1 contest into a 4-3 nail-biter. However, Max Domi deposited his second goal of the evening into the empty net, and Canada emerged with a 5-3 victory on Wednesday.

Sam Reinhart picked up a goal and two assists as the host country clinched the top spot in Group A with a perfect 4-0 record. Josh Morrissey and Curtis Lazar also lit the lamp while Eric Comrie came up with 25 saves for the win.

Anthony DeAngelo provided the other marker but made a costly mistake in the late going for the USA, which lost for the first time in preliminary-round action after winning twice in regulation and once in overtime.

Thatcher Demko stood up well to the locals' attack, coming away with 38 saves in the setback.

Lazar had given Team Canada that seemingly-secure 3-1 advantage with 9:59 left in the contest, on a hotly disputed goal. He crashed the American crease in search of a Connor McDavid rebound, and though an intra-net camera angle appeared to confirm that he guided the puck into the net off his own body, the score was allowed after a long review.

But Larkin struck with 2:34 to play off a nice three-way passing play which originated with Chase DeLeo and ended up on the stick of Hudson Fasching before the Michigan product tapped it home from the left side.

Demko was on the bench a short time later, and DeAngelo made a careless defensive-zone giveaway attempting to clear the puck, instead putting it on the stick of Reinhart for the easy tally with 56 seconds remaining.

It still wasn't over.

Larkin beat Comrie again, this time in close, and Team USA got back within a goal. Demko was rushed back to the bench off the ensuing faceoff, but his teammates couldn't get the puck from the point near the opposite cage.

Reinhart banked a long lead pass into the attacking zone for Domi, who dutifully deposited the puck to make it 5-3.

Eichel might have had the best chance for the USA on the game's opening shift, but Comrie turned away his forehand drive resulting from a Tuch pass. 

In a scoreless opening period, Canada jumped all over their southern neighbors and peppered Demko with 17 shots, but the Boston College sophomore refused to budge.

He was dented twice on 12 shots in the second period. as Domi converted a Reinhart pass from the left side at the 7:07 mark thenTeam Canada forged ahead by a 2-0 count just after the midway point of regulation on Morrissey's power-play strike with Larkin in the box for high sticking.

DeAngelo -- a South Jersey native -- put the Americans on the board with a man-advantage marker at 13:12, finishing off expert puck movement between Alex Tuch, Sonny Milano and Jack Eichel.

A big part of Canada's puck dominance came in the faceoff circle, as the hosts  won 42 of 57 draws with Reinhart taking 18 of his 23 tries in the dot.

Quarterfinal matchups for both nations are set, as Canada will take on Denmark and Team USA has a date with Russia.

Earlier in the day, 2014 Flyers draftee Oscar Lindblom exploded for a natural hat trick in the second period as Sweden claimed a 5-1 decision over Switzerland.  Tre Kronor finished with the top spot in Group B at 4-0 and awaits the winner of the late Finland/Germany matchup which takes place later tonight.

Lindblom finished preliminary-round play with three goals and four assists. 

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